TRANSCRIPT – PRESS CONFERENCE – PARLIAMENT HOUSE
2 Nov | '2022
THE HON SUSSAN LEY MP
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Minister for Industry, Skills and Training
Shadow Minister for Small and Family Business
Shadow Minsiter for Women
Federal Member for Farrer
27 October 2022
I just wanted to make comments about what happened in the chamber today. I’ve been a federal MP down here for nine years been involved heavily with federal politics for over 12. And, you know, I really do not appreciate being spoken to, and screamed at, by the Prime Minister as I was today. I asked a question which I’ve talked to a lot of you about, the ring road in Rockhampton and I feel that I’ve been humiliated by him and by the Labor Party.
The fact that we’ve been talking today about kindness in the Parliament, looking after each other, and all the nice kind words, after he screamed and pointed and yelled at me and all his MPs, females included in that were screaming, laughing and yelling as well. And this is not the first time that I’ve endured this stuff from the Labor Party from the Prime Minister’s Office who have spread smear campaigns about me in Rockhampton, and also just the stuff from some of the female MPs in the Labor Party. I think that this should be a place that we can all work together. I tried to treat people with respect, as how I want to be treated.
And I want to thank my female colleagues here supporting me because we’ve all had enough. You know, they are a mob of hypocrites if they can say that everything’s so wonderful on the left. Well, it’s not. They treat us appallingly. Our female MPs and senators are treated like absolute garbage all the time by the left and we have had enough.
So that’s why we’re here today. We’re here to make a stand. And this is about women across Australia, I have two daughters, and if I don’t stand up against this bullying in the Parliament, well, they just won’t have respect for me. So that’s probably all I want to say about that.
Thanks very much, Michelle. I’ll just read from a statement here that says “more needs to be done to change the culture in Parliament House. Culture sits above policies and procedures and must change. There’s a cultural problem with sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace that is Parliament House.
Who said that and more? Anthony Albanese.
And he said and has said on many occasions, we want parliament to be a kinder, gentler workplace. We want people to be treated with respect. We want to do things differently in 2022. He talked about, in fact all the Labor Party talked about, the Women’s Budget Statement, and made comments about respect in the workplace, respect between colleagues, professional behaviour, and all of the things that the Government says it stands behind.
Well, if Anthony Albanese does not go back into Parliament into the chamber this afternoon, stand and publicly apologise to the Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry, if he does not do that, all of these statements are not worth the paper that they are printed on and he may as well throw them in the garbage bin.
This is an incredibly distressing experience for Michelle. And there were others in the chamber, who heard it, who felt it, and who really, really didn’t like it. So I’m just going to ask, Anne Webster and a couple of colleagues who were there to say a few words.
Today’s behaviour by the Prime Minister is completely inconceivable given all the rhetoric which Sussan has spoken about. I know Michelle Landry and we all know how tough she is fighting for her community. She deserves respect for that. Not the treatment that she received today. As somebody who was sitting very close to Michelle, I know that the Prime Minister was directing his aggressive comments to her. And it’s unacceptable. We have all had enough. I’ve only been here four years, and I’ve had enough. We want respect in the Parliament, and we want to be treated with respect.
Thank you very much, Sussan. I am standing here today because I’m supporting how Michelle is feeling about this and also that I was in the chamber at the time and I could feel it, the intensity of the aggression, the pointing, the shouting, as a woman who came from a professional life, like many of us before this, that is not acceptable behaviour in any Australian workplace. It should not be acceptable behaviour here in the Australian Parliament, when we’re meant to be the leaders of this country, leading by example. The people behind the Prime Minister, his colleagues, Labor women, Labor men, were cheering on this behaviour. It was absolutely disgusting. As Michelle sat there clearly distressed. We have had enough. As conservative women, as all women, we will not be putting up with this behaviour any longer.
We are with you Michelle.
Just quickly, Michelle, our hearts go out to you. Today in the chamber we saw Anthony Albanese bully our colleague from across the chamber and it was not acceptable. I spoke out to Anthony Albanese, and I asked him to apologise. I told him that he owed Michelle Landry, the Member for Capricornia, an apology and his response to me was to flick me away. This is not good enough. This is not in line with what the Government has been speaking about when it comes to respect at work. So we ask for him to come into the chamber and apologise to the Member for Capricornia.
So I was obviously in the Senate and didn’t see it. But I have campaigned alongside this woman in one of the toughest seats held by the Labor Party for a century. Michelle Landry is a fighter for that community. She never takes a backward step and any of you who witnessed her press conferences, particularly this week about the Rockhampton ring road and the delays and cuts that have been announced in the Budget knows that she’s no shrinking violet. But for her to be this distressed, and it is not an isolated incident, in Michelle’s political career. We know we’ve had the CFMEU involved in her family, the Prime Minister’s Office involved in intimidation and harassment of her over the past, and as Michelle said, enough is enough and we as the conservative women in this Parliament, take this seriously.
Just before we do go to questions, and I know there will be questions for Michelle.
Look, we’ve had enough of this. This has got to stop. To be sitting there and have this flicking motion across the chamber, this shooting motion, which is what we saw today, we saw directed towards Michelle, we’ve all experienced it.
Well it’s enough. It’s time Prime Minister to stop. Anthony Albanese’s behaviour needs to stop.
Can I ask you has the Prime Minister called you up?
Yes, the Prime Minister did ring me, and he said that he didn’t mean to upset me that he was yelling at Peter. But he was definitely yelling at me, he was pointing at me, and as I said I’ve been humiliated in front of the whole parliament. And he started talking about the infrastructure projects and all the rest of it. So, he did ring, but I just think that I’ve been embarrassed across the nation. So he needs to go to the chamber and apologise in the chamber.
Some of the TV footage did make it look like he was pointing it at Peter Dutton. Do you simply not accept his version of events that he was yelling at Peter Dutton?
Well, he had a yell at Peter Dutton but he was looking at me, and he was screaming at me, and pointing at me, and it’s difficult to see when it’s, but Anne was sitting directly there.
I can verify he was definitely yelling at her.
And it there’s just no reason for it. I mean, I was asking you about an infrastructure project that they’ve ripped a billion dollars out of Capricornia. So, I just don’t think that this behaviour is acceptable. And the fact that all those female Labor politicians were there clapping and cheering him is just really bad.
Did he apologise to you?
Look I was fairly upset. So he might have, but I can’t really remember the whole words. I think he said, I didn’t mean to upset you.
Not sorry for the behaviour, sorry for upsetting Michelle.
And I said to him, I try and treat everyone nicely down here, which I do. And so I don’t expect to have that sort of behaviour.
Ringing to apologise to avoid an incident is not a genuine apology.
Do you think Michelle, but if there hadn’t been that interjection from Peter Dutton which confused two places which fired the Prime Minister up, you wouldn’t have seen the response?
Yepoon is a place that is 40 kilometres outside Rockhampton, and Yeppen is a floodplain. So it would be an easy mistake to make if you didn’t live locally. I don’t know the Prime Minister did say to me that, you know, he has to put up with people yelling at him all through question time. But that’s still not excusable behaviour. I mean, it’s a professional place and we need to have respect and dignity in this place. And as I said, I treat people with respect and I expect to be treated like that. And I have put up with this bad behaviour for years, years and years, particularly from state members in the Labor Party, and we are calling enough now, we have had enough and that is why my female colleagues are here with me today and we’ve got the support of our male colleagues as well.
Would you describe it as bullying behaviour from the Prime Minister?
No well, I think it was fairly bullying behaviour, the whole episode. So, if you think of that he’s been there screaming at me and then all his MPs cheer and clap and pointed at me. I just think that is disgraceful behaviour. And I mean, you know, some of those women could have said to these bullies, you know, this is just not acceptable behaviour, but they all pile in together. And, you know, if it had just been him, screaming and all the rest of it, okay, but then the whole lot of them clap and cheer because I think humiliated so I just think it’s bad.
You mentioned that you’ve had previous instances with the Prime Minister’s Office what we you referring to?
It was before he was Prime Minister and I have made a personal explanation about some issues that had happened around here. And they, it was a statement that I had made and there was about three lines were taken out of that, by Kristina Keneally at the time, and then they defamed me all over Australia. I had to get on national programs. And one of the journalists in Rockhampton sent us a copy of this email that they had sent with the three things that they taken out of a five minute transcript and it was Anthony Albanese’s office that did it. And that was the personal explanation. I had said that, you know, I was misrepresented. They didn’t take the whole thing into context. And then we’ve got the future prime minister, his office doing it and then when I was saying it, he flicked me away again, and that is just a derogatory behaviour as far as I’m concerned, by flicking people away, I mean, we are Federal Members of Parliament, we need respect. Just imagine if Scott Morrison had done that to one of the Labor MPs you know, it’s just appalling and they think they can get away with it they think they’re so self-righteous, and it is just not good enough behaviour.
The treatment of women in this place has obviously come to the fore in the last year or two. What message do you think today’s events in the chamber have?
I think that we need to have more respect in there, whether it’s male or female, I just think that, you know, people in the communities are sick of it, and I think that there needs to be a lot more respect. I mean, if someone gets up, the screaming that goes on, I don’t even like just speaking up despatch box because you have people just screaming in your face. And look, I know people have done it for years, though. I just think it’s gotta calm down a bit. And look I know, it’s the Federal Parliament. It’s very combative, but we need to have a bit of respect in the place if we’ve got school kids coming in here, watching what we’re doing, but I think that we need to have more respect in the chamber.